Farron: I don’t want British weapons used for human rights abuses

The Guardian reports a Liberal Democrat call for stricter controls on arms exports so that weapons could not be sold to regimes which have poor human rights records:

The Lib Dems tightened the already strict criteria while in government, delivering on a manifesto commitment to secure the first international arms trade treaty, limiting the sale of weapons to dangerous regimes. More than 150 licences granted by the Labour government were revoked as an immediate reaction tot he Arab Spring.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, said: “Human rights should not be pushed aside in a headlong rush to profit. We currently sell weapons to a series of regimes that have terrible human rights records. I do not want British weapons or equipment being used to commit human rights abuses.

“We do have a strong regime of safeguards, some of the strongest in the world, but they can be strengthened.

“I am calling for the government to stop hiding behind civil servants and take responsibility for arms sales. If they feel the sales are appropriate, they should sign off the deals themselves. It is time for accountability in the arms trade.”

The Lib Dems also want tougher controls on the re-exporting of arms by introducing end-user certificates for all arms sales. These controls enable the exporter to retain a say in the eventual destination of the goods.

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15 Comments

  • My only question would be how do we tackle secondary sales? Say if we sold weapons to Spain and then they sold them onto high-risk nations, can that be tackled too?

  • PHIL THOMAS 23rd Nov '15 - 3:56pm

    Too difficult to enforce. Smoke and Mirrors from Tim F.

  • I agree with Tim…………

  • Eddie Sammon 23rd Nov '15 - 5:13pm

    This is OK, but for me human rights have become a euphemism for criminal and terrorist rights. The whole field needs to change in other to gain widespread respect again. Human rights should be just as much about victims as criminals.

    People say drone strikes are against human rights laws, but the droning of Mohammed Emwazi had 76% support to 11% against according to the Times. There is no reversing this level of popularity.

    If we are to tighten exports I would possibly include China on the sanctions list. We can’t just be selective and pick on targets that are small.

  • Eddie Sammon 23rd Nov '15 - 5:17pm

    PS, even if we can’t sanction China because they are too big, let’s have a proper human rights analysis. Don’t let it be driven by people like Stop the War who are only really interested in the human rights abuses of our “allies”.

  • A Social Liberal 23rd Nov '15 - 6:29pm

    Alex H
    End User Certificates prevent all but rogue nations (and in the past, rogue intellligence agencies) passing on weapons on the sly.

    Eddie
    First, you either agree that everyone should have recourse to the law or you should deny everyone that right.

    Second, we are supposedly better than the terrorists in Da’esh. If we are then we should do the right thing, if we are not then we shouldn’t cry when Da’esh do something disgusting – because you think that we are no better than they are.

    Finally, since when was doing the right thing reliant on it being popular?

  • Tim, Haven’t you noticed; it’s those with the poorest HR records who are our biggest customers…

  • Eddie’
    We don’t actually export much weaponry to China. Most of their military equipment is produced in China, using it’s huge industrial might and is based on Russian designs. As for the human rights thing . I think Human Rights has become something used as a rhetorical weapon used by right wing politicians so they sound a bit like Dirty Harry until they’re caught doing something naughty.

  • Eddie Sammon 24th Nov '15 - 12:05am

    A Social Liberal and Glenn, my worries are as follows:

    1. Being too tough on the right of self-defence.
    2. Ideological and sectarian biases.
    3. Lack of legitimacy of international law.
    4. Public opinion and therefore the sustainability of specific human rights policies.

    They are all pretty self-explanatory besides number 3. I see human rights as more of a national policy issue than an international law one. I have grave concerns about the legitimacy of international law and think the UN is used by dictators to justify their rule.

    Of course I think human rights is important and it is partly why I believe in responsible trade rather than free trade, but do I trust Tim Farron and the Lib Dems to get it right? No. Maybe under Nick Clegg, but not now.

    Regards

  • Eddie Sammon 24th Nov '15 - 12:10am

    When it comes to sectarian biases: too many people retweet the group that has the best social media operation. We need a professional analysis and people need to be able to make a case that can win over public support. When it comes to international conflict, especially in the Middle East right now, you can’t take sectarian biases out of it.

    Regards

  • Eddie.
    Personally. I’m more worried about Britain being turned into a police state where our governments spy on your correspondences, the police are used to infiltrate environmentalist groups. people can be whipped of to shady camps to be tortured and imprisoned for years on end, Plus no one has the money or right to fight things like unfair dismissal. And I will add that in the 1970s and 1980s governments did not act so disproportionally to far more frequent terrorist attacks both here and abroad. I’m fed up of hearing spurious justification destabilising countries and drone strikes. Coz it seems to me this only happens when countries are far enough away and foreign enough. We’re told that the info gathered and strikes are precise enough to nail a shed in the middle east, but if so why don’t we use all this “surgical” expertise anywhere closer to home?

  • Surely the first on the ban list should be Saudi Arabia? They are crony of the day so doubtful. Anyway Cameron’s arms dealer buddies are all doing very nicely. Imagine when TTIP comes in, what more power are they being handed?

  • Richard Underhill 24th Nov '15 - 5:16pm

    Anne 24th Nov ’15 – 8:38am TTIP is in a queue behind President Obama’s Pacific deal TTP, so it will not happen yet and it may not happen at all. A variety of 20 political systems including Canada, Japan and Vietnam need to implement TTP.

  • Adam Boyden 27th Nov '15 - 3:18pm

    This is very good to see Tim. The Govt need to be much more responsible for where our weapons of war end up, and who uses them, on who.

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